First, a warning: this is going to be a mostly picture-free post, because I’ve been threatened with dire consequences if I post swimsuit photos of my friends online 🙂
We had a four-day weekend courtesy of Szt. Istvan Napi (St. Stephen’s Day, which is a religious day as well as a public holiday commemorating the foundation of the state). To kick off the long weekend, we visited Palatinus Strand on the Margit Sziget (Margaret Island). This island is one of my favorite spots in Budapest – it’s home to beautiful parks, ruins of a convent (where the eponymous Margaret spent most of her days), a nice comfy jogging trail, and swimming pools. Palatinus Strand houses 11 different pools and four water slides, so it was the perfect place to spend a sunny and warm Saturday in August. They were newly renovated this spring and it is obvious that the money was well-spent!
My favorite pool by far is the wave pool. I told our friends that in the USA, the wave pools at parks are mostly for kids and not much fun. In response, they pointed to the sign, in all capital letters, stating that it was for good swimmers only. This wave pool isn’t messing around. Each hour, at the 45-minute mark, the lifeguard rings a bell to alert the entire park that the waves will soon begin. The previously nearly empty pool then floods with water, with waves that start out as calm and quickly escalate into I-should-really-pay-attention-and-not-drown levels. It lasts for about 5-10 minutes, and as soon as the waves stop, people pour out of the pool, returning only at the next hour. Richie has a new GoPro camera with waterproof case that he tested out for the first time in the wave pool (go big or go home, right?). It passed the test and has some wonderful footage of most of us getting wiped out by a wave at one point or another. Sadly, I think the no-swimsuit-footage rule applies to this as well…
The rest of the pools aren’t nearly as adventurous – they vary in temperature from around 28 degrees (Celcius) to 36 degrees, and some are family-designated pools with toys and slides for the kiddos. Around 4 pm, in the largest cold pool, a water aerobics instructor arrived and started leading a class – I was amazed to see that dozens of people hopped in the pool to try out the exercises! We followed along for a few minutes… but ultimately we opted for a relaxing pool of about 34 degrees, with jacuzzi-type massaging jets and a lazy river that actually wasn’t that lazy (people kept slamming into a concrete wall as they tried to exit it).
The slides were a hit with the group as well. I didn’t take a picture, but you can see photos of them here (courtesy of TripAdvisor). They range from easy (the purple one, which requires a tube and is mainly for children), medium (the blue slide, which you go down without a tube and is really fun!) to hard (the yellow and orange). My friend Julie warned me that she had gone on the yellow slide the week before and nearly flown out of it, and the orange is even steeper (although it’s enclosed… so you can’t see what’s coming), so we stuck with the blue slide. My more adventurous better half went on both the yellow and the orange, and judging by his face after he got out of the water, I was well-advised to steer clear 🙂
On St. Stephen’s Day itself, our friends Reiner and Sophie hosted us for yummy grilled food on their gorgeous terrace, and Julie, our resident baker, whipped up some delicious desserts for all to enjoy before heading down to the riverbanks to watch the fireworks.
The fireworks are set off from the Chain Bridge and three barges on the Danube, and they’re always choreographed to music. The show lasted about 30 minutes and it was gorgeous! There were several articles before the event commenting that, as elections are coming up in the next year, the current government wanted it to be a success and spent a LOT of money to make sure the event went off flawlessly. I started to take some photos, but honestly they didn’t come out as well as it looked in real life, and after a couple of minutes I decided to put the camera down and just enjoy the moment.
Richie brought his GoPro again, so I imagine one of these days he’ll have a blog entry with some video footage of the fireworks. When he does, I’ll update with a link.
It’s been a fairly quiet month for us, which I really appreciate after the hectic back-and-forth of July. Now, we’re well-rested and back to business. Richie has several trips for work in his future (Prague, Paris, Bucharest, and Warsaw) and we have our next guests coming in just under two weeks! Time to get the guest room ready and dust off my tour guide knowledge 🙂